In Part Two last week, I provided some tips about filling out a lineup card for Scoresheet Fantasy Baseball. This week, I’ll go over how to manage your rotation and bullpen.
For the purposes of this article, I’m once again using my roster from BP Kings, a competitive 24-team league featuring many familiar names from the fantasy baseball community.
Beginning with rotation options, you’ll want to list your five best starters according to preference. They’ll all start at least one game in a given week. Of course, pitchers often make multiple starts in a week, so that’s where the “prefer to face teams” feature can be utilized. If for some reason you miss out on a second start from one of your pitchers in a given week, it will be used for future weeks. That’s an underrated part of pitcher strategy, especially if you are diligent enough to follow closely. On a related note, you could move pitchers in and out of your rotation depending on which teams/lineups those pitchers will face in real MLB games in the coming week.
Similarly, the “prefer to face teams” feature can be used in multiple ways, perhaps trying to put your best foot forward against a division rival while using your lesser starters against a weak opponent. If you really want to dig in, you can attack teams with lefty-heavy or righty-heavy lineups. It’s all part of the thought process.
Simply put, a pitcher’s “hook” is the number of runs allowed by a pitcher combined with half of the runners currently on base. Unearned runs only count for half of a run. Intuitively, better pitchers usually justify a higher hook while your lesser pitchers don’t get as much in the way of rope. Strategies vary here, especially if you have a lockdown bullpen. There’s plenty of debate about hook numbers in general, but “ace-type pitchers” can have a hook in the 5.0-5.5 range while good pitchers sit around 4.5 and fifth-starter types are more in the 3.5 range. That’s demonstrated in my rotation with Yu Darvish and Mike Soroka leading the way. The lowest you can go with a hook number for a starter is 3.0. Again, the depth and quality of your bullpen will have an impact on where these numbers settle in.
Hook for Closer:
As noted on the Scoresheet website, save situations occur “when the score is tied; or when you are leading but the other team has the potential tying run on base, batting, or on deck.” This is all dependent on if a closer is listed on your lineup card and if they have enough innings available to come into a game. I’ve set my hook at “3” for the purposes of this column. It’s advised that you don’t go below “2,” as that means your starter is probably pitching an amazing game anyway.
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Rotation depth is very important in Scoresheet and you’ll likely want at least one excess starter to be at the top of the list here in case they are needed. They should also have a similar hook number as a starting pitcher. Aside from that, short relievers should have a low hook number, possibly as low as 1.0. It’s reasonable to bump it up for your better set-up pitchers. As for vs.R/vs.L, this is pretty self-explanatory. You are simply ranking your preferences against left-handed and right-handed batters. So you may want your top lefty arm to be your top option against left-handed batters and so on.
Inning simply means the earliest one of your relievers can come into a game. This is a separate setting from what was just mentioned in regard to excess starters. If you have enough rotation depth, you certainly have the option to use an extra starter as a short reliever or a late-inning arm, even though it might not be the best use of those innings. Generally your weaker relievers will be listed to come in earlier and you’ll stagger the remainder of your staff from there. Set-up pitchers generally should be set for the sixth or the seventh innings. This will ensure that they don't appear in games where you are well behind or blowing out the opposition.
There are different schools of thought on closer usage in Scoresheet. Some players might not have one listed at all. For the purposes of this column, I have Hector Neris tasked with the role. The idea of going without a closer has some merit, as you might not want your relief ace to be limited to certain scenarios. You might not also want a pitcher who is rolling to be taken out in favor of a closer who may or may not have had a great week. One alternative to think about would be to have your best reliever in the high-leverage seventh inning spot, saving your second-best reliever in those closer situations. Generally you’ll set the eighth inning for the earliest a closer would enter a game. You can use multiple closers, but again, you’d potentially be boxing yourself in.
We've reached the end of our journey here, so I hope that you give Scoresheet a try if you haven't already. The fun thing about writing this series is that I thought more about how to maximize my roster so that I'm more prepared to win whenever games are actually played again. Hopefully you've learned some things too. Be safe out there.